Archive for David Phelps
Via Marc Carig, right-hander David Phelps will start in place of CC Sabathia on Monday. The just-signed Derek Lowe will back him up out of the bullpen. Sabathia was placed on the DL with a stiff elbow earlier today. Joel Sherman says the Yankees will recall Ryota Igarashi for tomorrow’s game before activating Lowe in time for Monday’s game.
Got five questions and four answers for you this week. Please use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us any links, comments, or questions throughout the week.
Donny asks: With qualifying offers expected to be in the $13.3-13.4 million range, there seems to be a very small possibility that Nick Swisher could take that as his overall deal even though he would collect more on the open market, but I doubt his AAV would not approach that. Could you see more FA’s taking this route going forward?
Nick asks: Is it almost certain that Swisher will not be around next season? All this talk of getting a fill in third baseman for the rest of the season and then turning him into a right fielder has me thinking. A lot of the recent talk on RAB seems like he’s out of the picture come next season. As a fan favorite and clubhouse favorite it’s gonna be hard to see him go.
Might as well lump these two together. You’re going to see a ton of players decline that one-year, ~$13.5M qualifying offer in favor of a potential multi-year guarantee on the open market. It’s a similar process to arbitration but the stakes are much higher given the money, so that just means we’ll see fewer qualifying offers overall. I highly doubt you’ll see the same kind of handshake agreements we’ve seen in the past just because that’s so much cash. Fading stars will have a tough time turning that down, but otherwise guys like Swisher will pass in favor of the bigger payday. That’s what I would do at that point of my career. Get the multiple years while you can.
As for Swisher, I don’t think it’s 100% certain that he will be gone next year. It’s just that he’s going to require a pretty significant contract and it’s unclear if the Yankees will go that far for a player soon to be entering his decline years with the 2014 payroll plan looming. I’m sure the team would absolutely love to see him accept the qualifying offer, giving them a quality player on a short contract and buying them another year to find a long-term outfield solution. I just can’t imagine that happening, Swisher’s looking at a multi-year pact worth eight-figures annually given the state of the corner outfield market.
Andrew asks: I was looking over at MLBTR about Michael Ynoa the other day. I remember the Yanks had a deal with him but he went back on it; saw that the Athletics have to either add him to the 40-man or expose him to the Rule 5 in the offseason. Worth a shot to take him in the Rule 5 and stick him in the bullpen next year to see if his fastball plays up? If he’s bad send him back, if not, we hold him for a year, then send him down to stretch out as a starter in ’14 when he’ll only be 21 still.
Ynoa has battled a number of injuries through the years, facing just 37 total batters from 2008-2011. He’s healthy now and is pitching poorly in Rookie Ball, with more walks (11) than strikeouts (six) in 12.1 innings. In last week’s chat Keith Law provided an updated scouting report after the seeing the right-hander in Arizona: “89-93, touched 94 once, really loose and easy, so there’s potential there, but all the lost time means he hasn’t advanced much if at all in four years.”
The A’s haven’t gotten what they expected when they broke the bank and signed Ynoa for a then-record $4.25M bonus, and I have a really tough time thinking he can provide a big league team with any value right now. He’s more interesting than most Rule 5 Draft guys given the upside, but carrying someone on the 25-man active roster means you think he can help you win games. I’m not sure he’s capable of doing that right now. The Yankees have a number of internal options capable of being a long-man next year, forcing the issue with someone like Ynoa seems doomed to fail.
Johnny asks: With this setback for Andy Pettitte, do you think it’s time to give David Phelps a rotation spot? I really like this guy and think he can go places and be a mainstay in the rotation for years to come.
Yeah I think so. Freddy Garcia has been perfectly fine and serviceable as the fifth starter since moving back into the rotation, if anything Ivan Nova has been the weak link in recent weeks. The Yankees aren’t going to take him out of the rotation though. Phelps has at least shown the ability to get big league hitters out and given the perpetual need for quality starting pitching, it makes sense to given him a little two month audition to see what he has. At the same time, I don’t think it’s some kind of huge injustice. I don’t see Phelps as some kind of ace in the making and he can be very valuable to this year’s team as a multi-inning setup man.
Travis asks: Do you think, even though he is currently at the Double-A level, that Mark Montgomery is a viable bullpen option for the start of 2013? Do you think they give him a September call-up?
I was planning to write about Montgomery yesterday, but Eric beat me to the punch. I might as well chime in with my thoughts here. Montgomery has obviously impressed in the minors and the easy comparison is David Robertson because they’re both sub-6-foot right-handers with nasty breaking balls who rack up strikeouts. There is a difference between a curveball pitcher (Robertson) and a slider pitcher (Montgomery) though, only because the latter tends to have more of a platoon split. Then again, Montgomery’s slider could be so good that it doesn’t even matter.
Barring injury or some kind of completely unexpected performance breakdown, I think it’s all but guaranteed that Montgomery will debut in the big leagues at some point next year. He has eight whole innings above Single-A to his credit so I’m not sure if a September call-up is in the cards this year, however. I suppose it could depend on the need at the big league level, if some guys get hurt or collapse Cory Wade-style, the Yankees could be forced to turn to him. As good as Robertson is, he was an up-and-down guy in 2008 and early-2009 before finally settling into a full-time role in 2010. Minor league relievers can be tricky to project because the numbers are so good, but I’d always say the odds are against someone coming up and having an immediate impact. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen though.
Going into the 2012 season, David Phelps was considered valuable rotational depth, with a chance to work his way onto the big league roster as a long man. Phelps was part of an interchangeable trio of prospects, including Adam Warren and D.J. Mitchell, who were expected to fill the swingman role that Hector Noesi occupied in 2011. While I appreciated his polish and fastball command, I never really thought he had a chance of holding down a rotation spot for the Yankees long-term. I am still leaning in that direction, but Phelps has done a lot of late to demonstrate that he may have been undervalued in the past, as Ivan Nova was a few years ago. With injuries to the Yankee rotation and bullpen, Phelps has divided his time between spot starting, long relief, short relief, and several minor league stints. Phelps has handled himself well in all of these roles (particularly over the last few weeks), but the Yankees’ usage of him has raised questions about how he should be best utilized this season. There are several routes that they could take, each of which has positives and negatives.
Replace Freddy Garcia, take over the #5 spot
Freddy Garcia has bounced back from his nightmarish start to the season, showing that he still has something left in the tank. Since returning to the rotation after Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia went on the DL, Freddy has given up 13 runs in 30 innings (about a 3.90 ERA) with 27 strikeouts against 9 walks. This performance hasn’t given the Yankees much reason to make the switch, since there is a bit more uncertainty associated with Phelps (even though he has pitched well of late). While Phelps could bump Garcia if he goes through another rough patch, the Yankees don’t seem especially interest in flip-flopping their roles. If the Yankees have any interest in trading Phelps, giving him the opportunity to prove himself as a full-time major league starter is not a bad way to build value (assuming he succeeds).
Build up innings in AAA
Since Phelps’ long-term role is likely a starter (whether in the Yankee organization or elsewhere), it could make sense for the Yankees to let him get the opportunity to start every fifth day in the minors. This would allow him to build up his innings, work on his secondary offerings, and allow him to experiment/tinker without too much concern about the outcome. If he is going to earn a spot in the Yankee rotation next season (a big if), having no innings limit would be very helpful to the team. The downside is that Phelps has already demonstrated his ability to succeed at the AAA level, and pitching in the minors may not provide enough of a challenge, possibly leading to stagnation or regression.
Long relief/swingman role
Phelps has proven himself capable of filling the niche that Noesi occupied last year, as he has the ability to work multiple innings to save the rest of the bullpen during a blowout. He also can make a spot start should injury suddenly befall a member of the Yankee rotation. The concern here is that Phelps’ usage could be sporadic (especially because the Yankees don’t get blown out too often), and the lack of work could hurt his performance and trade value.
While the Yankee bullpen has been strong this season, there are still some areas where they can improve. For the beginning of the season, Cory Wade held down the 7th-inning role very capably, but his recent struggles caused him to get demoted to AAA. Clay Rapada, Boone Logan, and Cody Eppley have all exceeded expectations this season, forming a strong bridge to David Robertson and Rafael Soriano. However, all three guys (with the possible exception of Logan) are best utilized in matchups against same-sided hitters, which limits their flexibility. Phelps would likely not have the same platoon disadvantage, and could be used in middle relief roles against both righties and lefties. This could provide some stability for the 7th inning, or any earlier important situations that the Yankees may come across. When Joba Chamberlain comes back (which should be pretty soon), Phelps’ utility in this role will likely diminish, but until then this could be a good way of getting him some work in high-leverage outings.
As always, the concern exists about whether repeatedly switching Phelps between starter and reliever will cause him any long-term harm. While many have blamed the Yankees’ treatment of Joba Chamberlain in this fashion for his subsequent injury problems, I’m not sure the connection is so clear. Regardless, I don’t think Phelps is anywhere near Joba’s class as a prospect, and even with his recent improvements, his ceiling is probably that of a #4 starter. Consequently, I have no problem with moving him around to help him fit the team’s biggest present need. At the moment, that is in the major league bullpen. I’d probably keep Phelps in a high-leverage short relief role until Chamberlain comes back, then shift him to more of a long-relief/swingman role (but try to get him some regular work so he stays sharp). If Freddy Garcia falters before Andy Pettitte returns, Phelps should be able to step in and hold down the fort.
Phelps’ emergence this season has been a pleasant surprise, and his versatility will be important for the Yankees’ pitching depth this season. He has put himself in the rotation mix for 2013 if Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda do not return, and potentially boosted his value to bring back a useful piece in a trade. Joe Girardi will likely utilize Phelps in a variety of roles between now and October, and I would be surprised to see him go back to AAA anytime soon. Whatever role he occupies, Phelps should be a useful piece for the Yankees’ pitching staff this season.
Later on tonight, Freddy Garcia will make his fourth start since returning to the rotation due to Andy Pettitte‘s injury. He’s had one good start (against the Rays), one really good start (against the Red Sox), and one pretty bad start (against the Angels). Freddy’s been much better than he was in April and I think the best way to describe his recent performance is “serviceable.” Pretty much exactly what the Yankees need him to be while Pettitte is on the shelf.
Meanwhile, David Phelps was scheduled to make his third minor league start since being sent down later this afternoon, but the Yankees recalled him from Triple-A yesterday. He had a nice but pitch count shortened start against the Rays before being sent down nearly two weeks ago, and he’s since thrown a dominant start (in Double-A) and very good start (in Triple-A) in the bush leagues. Over his last 21 innings between the minors and Majors he’s struck out 31 batters. A big league rotation spot opened up with Andy’s injury and you can kinda see that Phelps smells the blood in the water.
It’s not a coincidence that Garcia and Phelps were pitching on the same days and with the same exact schedule. Freddy is the weak link in the rotation at the moment and if the Yankees were to pull the plug anytime soon, Phelps is ready to step right in seamlessly. Garcia hasn’t really done anything to warrant losing his rotation spot unless he tosses up a second straight dud tonight, and even then I think he would get the benefit of the doubt. He built up some goodwill last year and the team sure seems to like his veteran savvy.
There is some merit to swapping the two right now, however. For one, it would give the Yankees a chance to evaluate Phelps as a big league starter over an extended period of time. With the 2014 payroll plan looming as well as the free agencies of Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson, digging up a cheap starter sure would be a big help. Even if he were to flop during an extended rotation audition, there is value in knowing he might not be able to be that cheap fifth starter down the line. There’s also the trade value aspect of it; pitching well would improve Phelps’ value on the market.
Secondly, Garcia pitched pretty well out of the bullpen earlier this season. It was a small sample in low-leverage spots of course, but at least he showed the willingness and ability to change roles. There’s a clear opening in the bullpen for a non-specialist reliever, someone who can throw an inning or two without turning everything into a stressful situation. Perhaps Garcia could be that guy, a 2009 Al Aceves type until Chad Qualls is replaced by whoever. Then again you could say the exact same thing about Phelps. He’s shown what he can do in a relief role already.
There is certainly no urgency to make a change, I’m just thinking out loud more than anything here. It’s very hard to ignore what Phelps has done over the last two or three weeks and as fans we always want to see the young kid over the old veteran with no future with the team. Our prospect crushes must be validated, dammit. The Yankees have a nice comfy lead in the division though, so whatever decision they make isn’t anything that will put a big dent in their playoff chances. I’d rather not see the kid bounce back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation, but at least they’re letting Phelps do it in the minors instead of forcing it in the show. That’s where they ran into trouble with Joba Chamberlain. No matter which of these two starts while the other relieves, the Yankees will have a solid fifth starter and a solid multi-inning reliever at their disposal.
The Yankees recalled David Phelps from Triple-A Empire State following today’s game, the team announced. D.J. Mitchell has been sent down to Triple-A in a corresponding move. Phelps has been dealing of late — 31 strikeouts in his last 21 innings — and was scheduled to start tomorrow, so he’s good for some serious length out of the bullpen. I suppose there’s a chance he’ll start instead of Freddy Garcia tomorrow night, but I wouldn’t count on it.
During the next few days we’ll take some time to review the first half of the season and look at which Yankees are meeting expectations, exceeding expectations, and falling short of expectations. What else is the All-Star break good for?
Any time a team in any sport wins a championship or even sits in first place for a prolonged period of time, there’s always a few players on their rosters exceeding expectations. Talent can only take you so far, it’s those unexpected contributions that push one team ahead of the rest. The Yankees have the best record in baseball and comfortable lead atop the AL East, and as you’d expect they have some players on their roster doing more than expected.
When Mariano Rivera crumbled to the ground in Kansas City, all of Yankeeland held their collective breath. The worst case scenario played out — Rivera had torn his ACL and is expected to miss the rest of the season — and New York was suddenly without the one undisputed advantage they had over every team. No matter who they faced, regular season or playoffs or whatever, the Yankees have always had the advantage in the ninth inning thanks to Mo.
Replacing Rivera’s brutal effectiveness is impossible, but the Bombers had the pieces in-house to get by. David Robertson got the first crack at the closer’s job but almost immediately hit the disabled list with an oblique strain. That’s when Soriano, the 2010 AL saves champ who signed on as a setup man prior to last season, stepped in. Since Rivera and Robertson hit the DL, Soriano’s pitched to a 1.25 ERA (2.00 FIP) in 21.2 innings while going 20-for-21 in save chances. He’s allowed just three runs total during that time and has held hitters to a .210/.273/.272 batting line. Soriano has avoided the disabled list and after a rocky first season in pinstripes, he’s settled into a crucial role for the team. He’s not Mariano, but my goodness has he been effective as his replacement.
When the season opened, it was more of the same from Hughes. He allowed 22 runs in his first five starts (21.2 IP) and batters were tagging him for a .298/.365/.617 batting line. After a second-half fade in 2010 and a disastrous 2011 season, it seemed that the Phil’s days as a starter were number.
The Yankees stuck with him though, and Hughes has rewarded them by pitching to a 3.46 ERA (3.91 FIP) in his last dozen starts. Only thrice in that span did he allow more than three earned runs in a start, only four times more than two earned runs. His strikeout (8.31 K/9 and 21.5 K%) and walk (2.08 BB/9 and 5.4 BB%) numbers are so good that he’s actually fourth in the league among qualified starters with a 4.00 K/BB. The only guys ahead of him are Colby Lewis (7.50), Justin Verlander (4.27), and Jake Peavy (4.15). That’s pretty great.
Hughes still has a homerun problem — fourth in the league with 19 allowed (1.72 HR/9) — but that’s just going to be who he is. He’s a fly ball pitcher (just 33.7% grounders), but because he walks so few the majority of them has been solo shots. Only six of those 19 homers have come with men on base, and five of those six were two-run shots. The Yankees have remained patient with Phil and he’s rewarded them in the first half by (finally) becoming a solid and sometimes dominant starter.
Considering his age (40), his performance last year (.245/.289/.419), and his Spring Training showing (.150/.190/.333), it was very easy to write Ibanez off as a non-factor just before Opening Day. Rather than burn out and get released by June 1st like we all expected, Raul was the team’s most reliable hitter for the first six or seven weeks of the year and has settled in as a very nice weapon against righties — .250/.311/.484 vs. RHP — in the lower third of the lineup.
Furthermore, Ibanez has had to step in for the injured Brett Gardner and has effectively been the everyday left fielder for the last three months or so. He’s started 45 of the team’s 85 games in the outfield and has only been the DH a dozen times. That’s hard to believe. Ibanez has certainly had his share of lol-worthy moments on defense, but just being able to step in and play everyday while maintaining a reasonable level of offense is far more than we could have expected. Raul was supposed to flame out and have the Yankees hunting for a new DH at the deadline, but he’s instead provided very real impact.
Eric Chavez & Dewayne Wise
The bench has been one of the team’s strengths this year, thanks in large part to Chavez. He had an okay year in 2011 while missing lots of time due to injury, but this year he’s stayed on the field — minus a seven-day concussion hiatus — and legitimately mashed. Chavez owns a .282/.336/.504 batting line with seven homers already, two more dingers than he hit from 2008-2011. Gardner’s injury has forced him into the lineup a little more than expected, but he’s produced both at the plate and in the field. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that Chavez has been one of the biggest surprises of the season so far.
The trickle down effect of Gardner’s injury is quite substantial; it forced Ibanez into the outfield, Chavez into a healthy amount of at-bats, and it brought Dewayne Wise up from Triple-A. The team’s fourth outfielder has 13 hits in 50 at-bats, but two are doubles, one’s a triple, and three (!) are homers. He’s also six-for-six in stole base chances. With the Yankees struggling to score runs and having lost six of their previous seven games, Wise laid down a perfect bunt hit against the Royals to load the bases and ignite a game-winning rally on May 22nd. They won the game and have won 30 of 42 since. Dewayne Wise’s bunt turned the season around. Okay, maybe not. But he’s been awesome.
David Phelps & Cody Eppley
The Yankees went into camp with six starters for five spots, but Michael Pineda‘s injury opened the door for Freddy Garcia to return to the rotation. It also created a competition for the final bullpen spot, a spot Phelps won in Spring Training. He shined in six long relief appearances before taking Garcia’s place in the rotation, at least until Andy Pettitte showed up. Phelps returned to the bullpen and has since bounced back and forth between the big leagues and Triple-A, mostly notably striking out eight in 4.1 innings in a spot start last Wednesday.
Overall, Phelps has pitched to a 3.05 ERA (4.37 FIP) in 41.1 innings, striking out a ton of batters (9.15 K/9 and 23.6 K%) while doing a respectable job in the walk (3.70 BB/9 and 9.6 BB%) and ground ball (43.8%) departments for an AL East rookie. He generated buzz in Spring Training with improved velocity and it carried over into the season, to point where he not only looks like he can get big league hitters out, he looks like a potential long-term starting pitcher.
Joining Phelps in the bullpen has been Eppley, who the Yankees plucked off waivers from the Rangers back in April. He assumed a regular spot on the roster once Rivera got hurt and he’s seized the opportunity by pitching his way into Joe Girardi‘s late-game mix. The sinker-slider sidearm guy has pitched to a 2.70 ERA (3.84 FIP) in 23.1 innings, holding right-handers to a .226/.298/.308 batting line. Eppley’s 65.2% ground ball rate is the fifth highest in the baseball (min. 20 IP). The Yankees do as good a job of find useful arms in unusual places as anyone, and they’ve dug up another good one in Eppley.
Via Josh Norris and Mike Ashmore, the Yankees have sent right-hander David Phelps down to Double-A Trenton. The move clears a 25-man roster spot for Darnell McDonald, meaning New York will have an 11-man pitching staff and a five-man bench during the four games in Boston. Phelps will start for the Thunder on Monday, his regular turn. Expected and smart move, plus it keeps him away from the traveling Triple-A circus.
Plenty could change between now and month’s end. Despite their stated lack of intention, the Yankees could make a play for Cole Hamels. They could look into Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster. But if their behavior at the past few deadlines is any indication, they’ll probably make minor moves at most. That means riding out internal options. David Phelps, then, could play a significant role in the second half.
Sent down in order to stretch back out as a starter, Phelps got recalled a bit prematurely. He was scheduled to throw 50 pitches in a minor league game last Friday, but the Yankees decided they’d rather have him as a caddy for Adam Warren. That proved a prescient move, as the Yankees leaned on Phelps for 3.1 innings. He wasn’t exactly great, allowing two runs, but he did strike out five. It was pretty clear that he was going to take the ball again in five days.
Again on a pitch limit, Phelps tossed 4.1 quality innings against the Rays yesterday, allowing just two hits to go with three walks and eight strikeouts. Chances are he would have pitched considerably deeper if not for the pitch count — hew was at 81 pitches through those 4.1 innings. Next time out, chances are Phelps will be ready to go the distance. As Mike mentioned earlier Phelps will likely get sent down before tomorrow’s game. The All-Star break gives the Yanks a chance to rework the rotation, and also gives Phelps to get a start in the minors. He can likely go 100 pitches, which will take off the reins when he returns to the majors — probably July 17th vs. the Blue Jays, so he can make a start any day from the 9th through the 12th.
If Phelps has any one thing to improve on as he enters the second half in the rotation, it’s his pitch efficiency. He’s been top notch in terms of results, a 3.05 ERA in his 41.1 innings. He’s also been serviceable by peripheral-based stats: 4.38 FIP, 3.90 xFIP, 3.54 SIERA. The problem is that he’s getting himself pulled from games prematurely. In his three starts he’s pitched just 13 innings. Part of that has been based on usage limits, but in some ways it has been based on his own performance. He’s used nearly 20 pitches per inning and 4.4 pitches per batter as a starter. That’s just not going to work if Phelps is going to remain in the rotation.
As a reliever Phelps has been a bit more efficient. He’s used 17 pitches per inning and 3.99 per batter. Those still aren’t great numbers overall, though. Yet if he can get even to that level as a starter, it will be a much-needed improvement for the second half. If Phelps is going to stay in the rotation until Andy Pettitte returns, the Yankees need him to eat at least six innings per start, lest they overtax the bullpen. At 17 pitches per inning he’d be over 100 pitches by the time he finished six. At his current 20 pitches per inning as a starter, he’d be at that threshold after five.
The good news is that this seems to be Phelps’s most significant issue. He has good stuff, and he doesn’t, or at least hasn’t yet, let innings get out of hand. His strikeout rate is well above league average, and his walk rate isn’t quite too high. Those seem like tougher areas on which to improve mid-season. Phelps has this one task in front of him, to put away batters with fewer pitches, and he can get cracking on it in the no-pressure environment of the minors. His success will make the Yankees’ lives much easier as they approach the deadline and home stretch.
The Yankees enjoy a much needed — for the bullpen, anyway — day off today before heading to Boston for a four-game set this weekend. They’ll play one tomorrow, two on Saturday, one on Sunday, then will have four days off for the All-Star break. Everyone will get to recharge the (physical and mental) batteries before getting into the dog days of summer and the stretch drive. The break gives everyone a rest and just as importantly, it gives the Yankees a chance to manipulate and optimize their roster in the short-term.
It seemed like a curious move at the time but the picture became clear once we had a second to sit back and think about it. The Yankees claimed outfielder Darnell McDonald off waivers from the Red Sox yesterday, adding a right-handed bat known for hitting lefties (career .345 wOBA vs. LHP) and capable of playing all three outfield spots. He’ll be in uniform at Fenway Park tomorrow.
The move wasn’t made to replace Dewayne Wise or Andruw Jones, the move was made to add McDonald to them. Although the team has not confirmed their plans, they’re almost certainly going to option David Phelps to the minors and roll with a five-man bench over the weekend. Phelps started yesterday and wasn’t scheduled to pitch this weekend, so the Yankees won’t miss him. With Boston scheduled to thrown three southpaws — Franklin Morales, Felix Doubront, and Jon Lester — in the four games this weekend, expect to see McDonald in left and Jones at DH with both Wise and Raul Ibanez available off the bench.
Once Phelps goes down he is ineligible to return for ten days, but that won’t be an issue since Sabathia is expected to come off the DL right after the break. The big left-hander played catch yesterday and will throw his first bullpen session since hitting the DL tomorrow, and so far all indications are that he’s a go once his 15 days up. Phelps will be able to continue to work as a starter in Triple-A, accumulating innings and threatening to take Freddy Garcia‘s roster spot.
The Yankees can push Sabathia back to the fifth game after the All-Star break, which is Tuesday the 17th. They play three games against the Angels and will likely see C.J. Wilson at some point, so McDonald should be useful for at least one game that series. They’ll then play the Blue Jays, who have three lefties — Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil, and Aaron Laffey — in their rotation. Odds are in favor of them seeing one of those guys in the series opener, which McDonald could start before being released to clear a roster spot for Sabathia in the second game, getting the Yankees back to a 12-man pitching staff and four-man bench.
The 26th Man
Thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Yankees (and Red Sox) will be allowed to carry a 26th man for both games on Saturday. It has to be the same player for both games and he must be sent back to the minors the next day. George King says the Yankees will bring back Cory Wade for the day, giving them seven available relievers on Saturday. Wade threw a perfect inning on nine pitches in his first Triple-A outing yesterday as he tries to get his location back to where it needs to be.
The Yankees will still have the option of swapping out a regular 25-man reliever between games if they want. Say Cody Eppley ends up throwing 30 pitches in the first game, they could then send him down before the second game for someone like Justin Thomas — who was going to be recalled prior to the Chad Qualls trade — for the nightcap. The third lefty reliever could come in hand against the Sox, but it also may be overkill. It is an option though, and I figure they’ll at least have an extra Triple-A arm waiting at the hotel in case they need to make a between-games move.
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These four games in three days against the Red Sox are happening in isolation, at least as much as any early-July series could happen in isolation. Both teams are off today and the All-Star break follows next week, so both clubs will be rested with the opportunity to manipulate their roster. It’s almost like a little playoff series, but between a first place team and a last place team. The Yankees added a right-handed bat to combat Boston’s three lefties and won’t have to worry about the pitching staff being short-handed this weekend, which is pretty sweet. There would also be something deliciously ironic about McDonald getting a big hit or two this weekend after Boston him cast him aside.
The Yankees have recalled right-hander David Phelps from High-A Tampa, giving the club a long-man with Adam Warren scheduled to start tonight and Freddy Garcia slated for Monday. Ryota Igarashi was sent back to Triple-A in a corresponding move.
Phelps threw 55 pitches on Monday and should be good for 60-70 tonight if needed. The Yankees sent him down a few weeks ago to stretch him out so he could start, and I’m not a big fan of abandoning that plan with both CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the shelf. Hopefully they can keep him stretched out to 50 pitches or so before sending him back down when Sabathia comes off the DL.